Preview capsule for the Memphis-Golden State Western Conference semifinal series that starts Sunday:
No. 2 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (56-26, 4-2) vs. No. 3 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (53-29, 4-1)
Season series: Grizzlies, 3-1.
Story line: Ja Morant and the Grizzlies have the look of a team whose time is coming, while Stephen Curry and the Warriors are trying to show their time isn't up. Golden State got Curry back from injury for the playoffs to rejoin Draymond Green and Klay Thompson and again looked like a championship favorite while beating Denver in the first round. But first the Warriors have to get by a Grizzlies team that zoomed past them during the regular season to take second place in the West and home-court advantage for this series.
Key matchup: Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. Green. In a series that will feature plenty of small-ball lineups, the two power forwards will often be the only big men on the floor. They are two of the best and most versatile defenders in the league, which Green proved again with some strong work against reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic in the first round.
Injury watch: Memphis had to finish its first-round victory over Minnesota without center Steven Adams, who was in health and safety protocols, and Ziaire Williams, who had a sore right knee. Golden State's Andre Iguodala missed two games in the first round, including the Game 5 clincher, with a neck injury.
Numbers of note: The Grizzlies have won six of the last nine meetings, including three in a row in Memphis. They handed the Warriors their most lopsided loss of the season with a 123-95 victory on March 28, though Golden State played without Curry, Thompson and Green. ... Curry averaged 28 points and Thompson 22.6 in the first round. The Grizzlies' Desmond Bane made 27 3-pointers, tops among all players thus far, while Thompson hit 22 and Curry 19 to rank third and fourth. ... Memphis averaged 33 points in the fourth quarter during the first round, outscoring Minnesota by 70 points in the period over the final five games after dropping Game 1. ... The Warriors shot 51.5% from the field and 42.2% from 3-point range in the first round.
Prediction: The Warriors and Grizzlies are 1-2 in the playoffs in scoring and have shooters and scorers all over the floor. Memphis showed in the first round it's never out of a game, but Golden State was a dynasty until injuries set in. The Warriors' best players are all healthy now. Golden State in 6.
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